Hotel charged a smoking fee

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Dec 26, 2018
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#1
I recently stayed at The Brickhouse Inn in Branson, Missouri. When I checked my bank account I found there was an additional charge to my bank account for $250. I called the hotel and they told me it was a smoking fee because we had smoked in the room. I denied this accusation. The person said they would let the owner know but they were not onsite at the time. I gave them 2 days to contact me and they didn’t. I called back and spoke to a lady who said she was the manager and I explained the situation to her and she said we absolutely smoked in the room and they had proof of it. They said there was a cigarette butt wrapped in tissue thrown in the garbage can. They also said the whole room and the hallway smelled like smoke. First of all, I don’t smoke and can not breathe around smoke, period. My boyfriend smoked 2 times while we were there and both times were outside (their video surveillance should show this, should it not?) Also, if there had been smoking in the room (which their wasn’t!) should the sprinkler system not have gone off? Especially with their claims of it supposedly being so bad they had to air the room and hallway out? Their accusations are erroneous as NO ONE in my party smoked in that room, or inside that hotel! If that room smelled of smoke and “had a cigarette butt in the trash can” then someone did it and placed it there. Again, I do not now nor have I ever in my life smoked, nor does anyone even smoke around me because of it. These are erroneous charges, false accusations.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,425
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Maui Hawaii
#2
I recently stayed at The Brickhouse Inn in Branson, Missouri. When I checked my bank account I found there was an additional charge to my bank account for $250. I called the hotel and they told me it was a smoking fee because we had smoked in the room. I denied this accusation. The person said they would let the owner know but they were not onsite at the time. I gave them 2 days to contact me and they didn’t. I called back and spoke to a lady who said she was the manager and I explained the situation to her and she said we absolutely smoked in the room and they had proof of it. They said there was a cigarette butt wrapped in tissue thrown in the garbage can. They also said the whole room and the hallway smelled like smoke. First of all, I don’t smoke and can not breathe around smoke, period. My boyfriend smoked 2 times while we were there and both times were outside (their video surveillance should show this, should it not?) Also, if there had been smoking in the room (which their wasn’t!) should the sprinkler system not have gone off? Especially with their claims of it supposedly being so bad they had to air the room and hallway out? Their accusations are erroneous as NO ONE in my party smoked in that room, or inside that hotel! If that room smelled of smoke and “had a cigarette butt in the trash can” then someone did it and placed it there. Again, I do not now nor have I ever in my life smoked, nor does anyone even smoke around me because of it. These are erroneous charges, false accusations.
If your boyfriend smoked outside and then returned to the room he would have brought the smell of smoke into the room. You are desensitized by being around him and may not realize how much the smell of smoke follows a smoker. If someone entered the room after you left they could certainly have smelled the smoke. And no, smoking a cigarette would NEVER set off the fire sprinkler system. You also may wish to ask the smoker in your party if they brought a cigarette butt inside for disposal.

You can email the hotel and contest the charge.
 
Dec 26, 2018
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#3
If your boyfriend smoked outside and then returned to the room he would have brought the smell of smoke into the room. You are desensitized by being around him and may not realize how much the smell of smoke follows a smoker. If someone entered the room after you left they could certainly have smelled the smoke. And no, smoking a cigarette would NEVER set off the fire sprinkler system. You also may wish to ask the smoker in your party if they brought a cigarette butt inside for disposal.

You can email the hotel and contest the charge.
He didn’t bring one in with him. I’m not desensitized because he doesn’t smoke around me. His clothes very seldom smell of smoke. We don’t live together either and he is the only person I’m ever around that smokes, and he’s not a frequent smoker. I was in the room the whole time. He went out to smoke before we left so I could see where there could have been a smell but the accusation is that one of us smoked inside the room, which we did not.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,111
15,587
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
I would go back to them and ask for the picture. If they don't produce it, dispute the charge on your credit card. We've had these before but when it is with a chain hotel, you can write to corporate and dispute the charge. With an individually owned hotel - you can only deal with them.

What is the date on your credit card that charge was put through? Was it the day you left? We've had errors made when there have been charges put through well after the client checked out and those could be from the next guest (or prior).

Here are some other cases we've had and how they ended:

Read this one carefully as this is the best way to try to get the charge reversed without going to your credit card company (and I hope you used a credit card, not a debit card)

https://www.elliott.org/advocacy/hotel-smoking-fee-reversed/

https://www.elliott.org/tag/smoking-charge/

https://www.elliott.org/case-dismissed-2/mystery-smell-costs-hotel-guest-200/
 
Likes: VoR61
Dec 26, 2018
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#5
I would go back to them and ask for the picture. If they don't produce it, dispute the charge on your credit card. We've had these before but when it is with a chain hotel, you can write to corporate and dispute the charge. With an individually owned hotel - you can only deal with them.

What is the date on your credit card that charge was put through? Was it the day you left? We've had errors made when there have been charges put through well after the client checked out and those could be from the next guest (or prior).

Here are some other cases we've had and how they ended:

Read this one carefully as this is the best way to try to get the charge reversed without going to your credit card company (and I hope you used a credit card, not a debit card)

https://www.elliott.org/advocacy/hotel-smoking-fee-reversed/

https://www.elliott.org/tag/smoking-charge/

https://www.elliott.org/case-dismissed-2/mystery-smell-costs-hotel-guest-200/
Mr. Maley,
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately I used my debit card to pay for the room because I had the money in my account for it. We checked out at about 10:40 a. m. and the fee showed up pending on my account that night at 11:01 p.m. it still shows pending on my account as of right now. The room charge was put through on the night of the 20th and that charge has cleared the bank.
I have read your articles and that is what led me to post a forum, hoping for some help. I know it will be a tough battle, but it’s a lot of money to me. It’s unfair of them to do this to do this.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#6
Seems with these cases there is always One Guest in the room that actually IS a Smoker. Smokers have absolutely no idea how much smoke is still on their person, clothes, hair, they just have the stench all over them. Doesn’t matter if they smoke outside it’s still on their person. You bring that smell back into the room with you.
As a non smoker I promise I can smell it.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,111
15,587
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
Unfortunately, you might lose chargeback rights because you used a debit card. If it only showing as a hold and hasn't been actually charged you can't dispute anything yet. We try to teach people never ever use a debit car for car rentals or hotels - this is why. I would suggest you call your bank asap and see if there is anything you can do.

From the second story I linked to above:
Also, you paid for the room with a debit card, which does not have the same protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) that credit card transactions do. As it is a common check-in practice for hotels to ask guests for a credit or debit card to which they can charge incidental expenses, I assume that the hotel charged the smoking fee to a credit card you provided when you checked in.
 
Mar 28, 2019
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#8
Unfortunately, you might lose chargeback rights because you used a debit card. If it only showing as a hold and hasn't been actually charged you can't dispute anything yet. We try to teach people never ever use a debit car for car rentals or hotels - this is why. I would suggest you call your bank asap and see if there is anything you can do.

From the second story I linked to above:
Also, you paid for the room with a debit card, which does not have the same protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) that credit card transactions do. As it is a common check-in practice for hotels to ask guests for a credit or debit card to which they can charge incidental expenses, I assume that the hotel charged the smoking fee to a credit card you provided when you checked in.
I was under the misguided impression if there is a visa or MasterCard logo on the card you have the same protections as their credit cards. When they first came on the scene the issuers marketed them that way. Why the change? As a Suze Ormon follower I never advocate the use of credit cards. I rather enjoy being debt free.
 
Mar 28, 2019
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#9
I was under the misguided impression if there is a visa or MasterCard logo on the card you have the same protections as their credit cards. When they first came on the scene the issuers marketed them that way. Why the change? As a Suze Ormon follower I never advocate the use of credit cards. I rather enjoy being debt free.
Sorry hit post too quickly. I was told since I gave the hotel my card the dispute would be "diffetent" since I authorized them to charge to it.
 
Apr 23, 2018
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#10
I was under the misguided impression if there is a visa or MasterCard logo on the card you have the same protections as their credit cards. When they first came on the scene the issuers marketed them that way. Why the change? As a Suze Ormon follower I never advocate the use of credit cards. I rather enjoy being debt free.
I use a credit card for the protection it gives me, and pay my bill in full each month. One can indeed be debt free and still use a CC, if one doesn't consider the credit as an asset (one with a price tag!)
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,111
15,587
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
With a credit card you have rights under the Truth in Lending Act and Fair Credit Billing Act. Because you are not "borrowing money" when using a debit card - you are using your own money - you don't have those protections.

I also believe in having no debt but as a travel agent, we strongly advise clients not to use debit cards for travel? First, you have less consumer protection. Second, because you are limited to how much money is in your account, processes that hotels and car rentals perform - putting an initial hold on your card and then charging the full amount - can cause an overdraft in your account and result in denied charges at a hotel or car rental when the final bill needs to be paid.

This site has a visual that shows the difference in your rights to dispute a charge between a debit and card. Basically, with a credit card liability is capped at $50. With a debit card, liability is capped depending on when you report the fraud.

https://chargebacks911.com/what-are-credit-card-chargebacks/
Hope this helps.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
562
722
93
St. Louis
#12
I was under the misguided impression if there is a visa or MasterCard logo on the card you have the same protections as their credit cards. When they first came on the scene the issuers marketed them that way. Why the change? As a Suze Ormon follower I never advocate the use of credit cards. I rather enjoy being debt free.
Unfortunately, they do not. I recall when the debit cards first came out with the credit card logos, my bank actually called it a Check Card that can be used anywhere that the MasterCard/Visa could be used. I don't recall them ever saying the came with the same protections. They also required credit checks at the time to obtain one.

You can enjoy being debt free and use a credit card, I've been doing it for the last 20 years, it just takes a bit more self-discipline to achieve. I use a credit card in almost every purchase transaction, mostly for the convenience but also for the added protection and benefits.

The only time I use a debit card is to withdraw cash from my banks ATM, even then I'm very cautious to check for to ensure there isn't a skimmer attached. Also, I use a different credit union account with a minimum balance, so if the card is compromised my loss will be manageable.

So far this has worked for me, as I've yet (knock on the proverbial wood) to have never had either my credit cards or debit card compromised.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,934
7,823
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San Francisco
#13
I was under the misguided impression if there is a visa or MasterCard logo on the card you have the same protections as their credit cards. When they first came on the scene the issuers marketed them that way. Why the change? As a Suze Ormon follower I never advocate the use of credit cards. I rather enjoy being debt free.
Well if you follow Ormon, she should have made it clear to you that using a credit card does not equal being in debt. You might want to seek out alternate sources of information in addition to Ormon.
 
Likes: bignevermo
Apr 23, 2018
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#14
Unfortunately, they do not. I recall when the debit cards first came out with the credit card logos, my bank actually called it a Check Card that can be used anywhere that the MasterCard/Visa could be used. I don't recall them ever saying the came with the same protections. They also required credit checks at the time to obtain one.

You can enjoy being debt free and use a credit card, I've been doing it for the last 20 years, it just takes a bit more self-discipline to achieve. I use a credit card in almost every purchase transaction, mostly for the convenience but also for the added protection and benefits.

The only time I use a debit card is to withdraw cash from my banks ATM, even then I'm very cautious to check for to ensure there isn't a skimmer attached. Also, I use a different credit union account with a minimum balance, so if the card is compromised my loss will be manageable.

So far this has worked for me, as I've yet (knock on the proverbial wood) to have never had either my credit cards or debit card compromised.
Agreed, and I like your idea of having a separate low-balance account for ATM withdrawals. We accountants refer to them as imprest accounts. (There might be a downside if you have to pay fees on the imprest account.)

Another advantage of using a credit card - if used and paid off wisely, it will likely have a positive effect on your credit score.
 
Likes: jsn55